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CPG Consumers Trust Online Reviews

Shoppers think toothpaste user reviews are shiny.

Consumer product reviews may have once been suspect, but virtually all shoppers now find them credible, according to a Deloitte Consumer Product Group-sponsored study. Deloitte also found that 62% of Internet users read product reviews written by other consumers.

The study comes on the heels of other user review studies that found that online shoppers often check them when researching product purchases. "Some online retailers are reporting higher sales conversion rates as a result of allowing customers to post product reviews on their Websites," said Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer.

More than eight in 10 respondents in the Deloitte study who read consumer reviews said that the reviews had affected their buying intentions: either they became more determined to buy the product or they changed their minds and bought a different product altogether.

Pat Conroy, vice chairman and US consumer products group leader at Deloitte Touche USA, noted in a statement that widespread use of consumer reviews could cause problems.

"This increasing market transparency can adversely impact the margins, market share and brand equity of consumer products companies," Mr. Conroy said.

"Consumers are increasingly empowered, everyone has a voice, and information and opinions are instantly dispersed," he said. "Consumer product companies need to determine how best to capitalize on this new landscape."

Deloitte conducted a separate study in August with Sterling Commerce and found that 42% of US online shoppers thought that featuring consumer reviews on Websites increased consumer trust in the sites—and presumably the products therein.

Yet more than two-thirds of US retail e-commerce sites did not allow consumers to post reviews as of August, according to an Internet Retailer-Vovici study.

Granted, the majority of CPG products are not purchased online, but site trust is also important for consumers who research online and purchase offline.

The eMarketer CPG Online Marketing: Health and Beauty report will be published in November 2007. Please click here to be notified when it is released.

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